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BTT: The Secret Afterlife of Books.

October 15, 2009


We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore?  SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Occasionally I come across books that I just can’t jive with. Those, are, hopefully, books I’ve been lent or books from the library. I’ve been really picky lately about the books I actually purchase and those are mostly books that I have already read but need for display and lending purposes of my own.

I occasionally purge the shelves (of things like a gifted Dan Brown or a highschool purchased Tom Clancy) and those either go off to the second hand book store so I can pick out something more my taste or are given to a friend who has expressed interest in such a title.

Again, for the most part, I am doing my best to save the Earth’s green and my own by putting the frequent back in frequenting the library.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2009 9:41 am

    I guiltily admit I prefer owning the books to borrowing them, however I do frequent my local library for audio books (mostly because they are too expensive to buy and I don’t ever see myself re-listening to them).

  2. October 15, 2009 10:05 am

    Hey we are the same here 🙂

    I enjoy borrowing from the lybrary and that’s why my library is still undercontrol 🙂

    I will swap them if they are getting out of hand and too many unwanted books

  3. October 15, 2009 10:41 am

    My pile remains static as I continually give away and yet keep adding…

    Booking Through Weeding

  4. novelinsights permalink
    October 15, 2009 11:02 am

    Hmm, it’s a puzzle though – if we stop buying new books perhaps we’ll put publishers out of business and have only digital form. I hope that never happens. I too love used books though and am always on the hunt for a fabulous old cover.

  5. October 15, 2009 11:18 am

    I have gone back to using the library more also. I mainly get my review books, some backlist books by authors I fall in love with and use the library when I can.

  6. October 15, 2009 11:25 am

    I had to weed out when we moved to IA from KY. First I used PBS and bookmooch and mailed out any book that was wishlisted by someone. Most of these were children’s books. I ended up having 250 credits! That was when media mail was only $1.59, so even though it was expensive at the time, it was definitely worth it. Shortly after that it jumped up to over $2.00.

    Then I gave several books away to my very small local library, some to Goodwill, and some I sold to Half-Price books. I estimate I gave away over 1000 books.

    Then, I still had over 50 book boxes to move!

    That experience has taught me to try to stay away from hardbacks, and to swap/mooch a book after I’ve read it — particularly if it’s on a wishlist because later on you might not be able to get rid of it.

    Good luck with your move, and with your decision making on this! I know how stressful it is, and I hope it goes smoothly for you!

  7. October 15, 2009 11:29 am

    Let me just add that I rarely buy books anymore. I use my library A LOT, and I go to Goodwill (books are only .59) and shop at library sales (anywhere from .10 to 1.00). That way if I did have to move again, I won’t have to feel as invested in my personal library as I once did.

  8. October 15, 2009 11:47 am

    Okay, I’m a dork. I thought this BTT was one where you picked the question. I didn’t realize it wasn’t you that was moving until I saw some other BTT posts. Sorry!

  9. October 15, 2009 2:03 pm

    Three cheers for libraries!

  10. October 15, 2009 2:41 pm

    I need to purge my shelves soon. Sounds like you have a good system.

  11. October 15, 2009 4:05 pm

    I admit I am guilty of loving owning books. I do buy a lot of USED books though. Does that count? I do like the library but I hate the idea of having a time limit on reading books. But I do use the library a lot!

    My BTT:

  12. October 15, 2009 5:23 pm

    I get rid of the ones that I absolutely don’t like, the ones that I rate as “Toss” in reviews. I tend to keep books that are of literary artistry.

  13. October 15, 2009 6:10 pm

    I borrow books from the library but I also have quite a collection at home too.

  14. October 15, 2009 6:35 pm

    I am pretty picky about the books I actually buy also but have picked up or received a few duds. Good policy.

  15. October 15, 2009 11:17 pm

    This is such a fun question. I think that non-readers (like my husband) don’t understand the need to keep books around. He complained about all the space I was taking up with my books and forced me to sort through and just keep the ones I really really wanted .But now I acquire books so frequently that I’ve filled up the shelves again. Right now, I’m banned from buying any more until I read most of what I already have!

  16. October 16, 2009 8:46 pm

    I’m picky about the books I purchase too. I don’t really read reviews so I don’t base my buys on the bestseller’s list. Rather, I borrow from friends and if I like it, I buy my own copy. The problem is, I often always pick out a winner and end up with more books than I have space.

    Weeding them out is hard. I usually pick the ones that I haven’t read in ages, but before I do a final decision, I re-read them. It works in some ways because I realize why I like or don’t like it, but most of the time, I end up deciding to keep it.

    I don’t usually give away books that were given to me, but mostly because of who gave it and not because of the title.

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